About the Trapper's Cabin
In 1870, when the Hudson’s Bay Company ceded control of Western Canada to the Dominion of Canada, the Bay’s fur monopoly ended and independent traders and trappers flourished. Many settlers started trapping during winter, when there was little work to be done on the farm, and when most animals’ furs were the thickest and of the best quality. Trapping gave families extra cash for little luxuries. Some settlers decided to make trapping a primary source of income and set extensive trap lines.
Trapper’s lives were spartan and generally routine. Before freeze-up, they brought in supplies, cut wood and weather-proofed their cabins and shelters. Returning in November, they set trap lines along trails looping fifty miles or so through the bush. Throughout the winter they caught mink, muskrat, lynx and other fur-bearing animals. Each pelt had to be stretched, cured and bundled. When spring came, they packed out the season’s harvest and tried their luck at the trading posts. Fur prices fluctuated greatly and trappers never got rich from their efforts.
Despite the dangers of extreme weather and accidents, trapping appealed strongly to those who cherished solitude, self-reliance and a traditional northern lifestyle.